DIY Painted Swing Set

June 18, 2018

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This project is sponsored by HANDy Paint Products

Our swingset is painted! At last! Last year we transformed our entire side yard with landscaping, an in-ground trampoline, and this Gorilla playset from Wayfair (read more about that transformation here!). The plan was always to paint over the orange-y cedar, but the project completed early fall, right after Polly arrived and we thought it would be best to wait until spring to paint it. I’m in love with the after, and it was 100% worth it, but (you knew there was going to be a “but” didn’t you?) it was not the fastest or simplest DIY. It took several days and there were a few moments where I actually regretted starting–mostly when it was just primed and looked a lot worse then when we started and I started questioning everything. But now? Now I can look back and say I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I love it.

Here’s how it looked before (taken last fall):

Deciding on a paint color and overall color scheme took some time–I even polled our Instagram followers! But in the end, it felt right to paint the playset to match our own home. A warm black roof, griege base and bright white trim with black and gold accents, naturally. And although we spray painted the green window trim pieces, we decided to keep the slides and rock climbing pieces as-is since they will need to endure lots of little feet, and I don’t mind the green accents.


Our prep included taking off the smaller slide, all the window trim pieces, telescope and steering wheel, and taping off anywhere the wood met the structure that wasn’t getting painted. The large green tube slide was a beast to attach, so we just taped that off and didn’t bother removing it.

We went into our local paint store and asked an expert about what prep we needed to do and which paint was best to make this last! We were advised that there was no need to sand because it was still relatively new and has been through a season, but to give it a good wipe down to remove all dirt and to prime with a good oil-based primer before painting with a moisture-resistant exterior paint that he said will last at least 25 years on the swing set. (fingers crossed!)


Here are the paints and stains we used: Krylon Gold Meltallic Maxx Ultimate Coverage on the smaller accessories; Premium Semi-Transparent Black Wood Stain on the roof; Exterior Oil-based Wood Primer on everything else; Resilience Paint over the primed areas (color matched to Benjamin Moore’s Cumulus Cloud.) Not pictured–the Krylon White Gloss spray paint I used for the window trim pieces.

While I was busy spray painting, Chris started staining the roof first. After each coat, we’d step back and see if it looked dark enough and, in the end, we did 3 coats of stain. The MVP of this whole project was definitely our HANDy Ladder Pail. It has a patented bracket that securely attaches it to the side of most step and extension ladders.  It easily holds over a gallon of paint or stain (and has liners so we could swap between stain and primer and paint), and has a built-in magnetic brush holder as well as a tool and rag holder.

It’s so much safer than trying to balance paint, or hold it in your hand while on a ladder.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the priming process, mostly because I was feeling all that regret I told you about earlier. But, below you can see half of it is just primed and the other half is starting to get painted Cumulus Cloud. I also took it in this direction so you can see how well it matches our home.

For painting, we used a 2″ angled brush and small 3/8″ nap purdy roller. We had a lot of questions about hand-painting vs. using a sprayer and for us, it just made more sense to hand-paint it because of the large tube slide that wasn’t going anywhere and we didn’t want to get any overspray on the rubber mulch that wasn’t cheap.

The project, from start to finish, took approximately 12 man hours to paint. I was worried that the griege we picked out to match the house was looking too white, until we added the bright white trim pieces back on and then it looked perfect!

Here’s one last before and after!:

I’m so happy we went for it. The playset looks so beautiful and goes with the aesthetics of the exterior and interior of our home now.

If you are planning on doing the same project, I’d recommend:

1. Blocking out a full weekend for the project.
2. Investing time and money in a high-quality primer and exterior paint with lifetime warranty (so you aren’t repeating the project every year.)
3. Definitely get the HANDy Ladder Pail. Half of the painting was done on a ladder and it was 100x easier with the Ladder Pail right there.



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What do you think?

  1. Jim says:

    How’s the paint holding up? We had ours painted in September of 2018 And it already needs to be painted again.

  2. Krystal Viera says:

    I just bought a new swing set and have not built it yet do you think it would be easier to paint before it is built or should I build it first and then paint?

  3. Divya says:

    Benjamin Moore’s Cumulus Cloud is it kind of grey color? I loved the color. Or is it white?

  4. Jeff Brown says:

    Amazing job looks great. I’m about to something like this for my kids. I have a few questions if you dont mind.
    How is the paint holding up?
    I assume you paint the floors as well…is it slick or did you add anything to the paint for ‘grip’?

  5. Liem says:


    Did you have to sand? Was there an oil based stain on it? Just wanted to know as we were told to sand it before putting primer on.

  6. Olga says:

    Hi Julia, Is that bark under the playset?

  7. Kate says:

    I asked some questions yesterday, did u ever get them? Not if it went through on my end..thank u

  8. Kate Chew says:

    I just bought the same playset (just without the big spinny slide) ..I love how you painted your playset turned out so beautiful!! Do you think I should paint with the paint sprayer before my husband assembles the playset? How will he be able to know what piece is what , aren’t they marked & paint would cover that up? Also what do you think if I painted the entire thing the color white you chose (to make it easier?) We have a gray weathered cedar shake beach house with white trim.. (I’m trying to match that) Also , how is the paint on yours holding up over time? Do u think you’ll need to re touch up the paint over time? Does the floor get dirty? I was thinking of painting the floor on our playhouse gray maybe . is your paint truly mildew resistant? Bc we have a white stained wood fence in our backyard that gets green stained mildew (I think) on it . . So I’m worried this might happen to the swingset ..sorry so many questions! Lol ..just really curious of your expert opinion before I embark on this big commitment of painting! Thank you so so much !????

    • Krystal Viera says:

      Did you ever get a response? What did you end up doing? Did you build and then paint? Or paint before building?

  9. Hailey M says:

    How many gallons of paint did you use? Thanks!

  10. Kristy says:

    How is the paint holding up with all the playing on it

  11. Erica says:

    It it so beautiful! I am a little concerned about my heart stopping when our kids put muddy tracks up the climbing wall. How do you stop yourself from standing there with a wet rag? Do you just hose it down on the weekend or something to keep it sharp?

  12. Kirsten says:

    Hi! I’m wanting to paint my kids’ play set as well. Love what you did! Has the paint held up well?

  13. Leslie says:

    Did u add those cute little lights or did your play set come with them?

  14. Do you feel like the white paint is holding up pretty well? We have three boys and I am worried that I will have to repaint EVERY year.

  15. Leigha says:

    Looks great. How do you deal with all the leaves in the mulch?

  16. Farooq says:

    You guys really did a great job on this project. It’s great that you matched it to your house, it makes the play set look that more custom and not like one you see in every backyard. The telescope/steering wheel/hardware really pop with the gold paint!

    The green slides/trim/rock steps/swings go well with the overall look! I would have chosen a dark grey/black but you probably would need to repaint the hard plastic after just a few years of wear and tear.

    Awesome job guys! Do you have a matching shed to your house as well?

  17. Ginger says:

    I think it looks great and I can see you are trying to blend it into your house and fence. I think I prefer the original though (hangs head in shame), but it doesn’t look orangey in the pics so I get it if it’s really bad in person.

  18. Natalee says:

    I was a skeptic, but this is cute! I don’t think the original was some horrendous eyesore by any means though. It just looked like a fun playground…and now it is just a different version of a fun playground.

    I’d love to hear an update on how you are liking the rubber mulch. Have you found a method to blow the leaves and bits out? Or are you having to pick out the leaves? Or do you just “leave it” ;)

    • Julia says:

      We really love the rubber mulch! We don’t pick anything out, but I do believe last fall when all the leaves fell, we did blow them all together (from the whole yard) in a pile.

  19. Carly says:

    I have the same type project going on and so glad I ran across this! I had no idea what types of paints to use. I love the white and gold! I’m going for a more girly look…keeping the green on the slide, swings, metal braces, and probably going with a pastel lime for the main with some turquoise and pink trim. We’ll see how it goes!

  20. Patricia Hall says:

    Why oh why do playhouse manufacturers insist on making everything orange? It does NOT look like any natural wood. It’s amazing how much better this looks. I think you posted photos earlier of painted playsets you were using as inspiration back when you assembled the swings.

  21. Amy says:

    I absolutely love EVERYTHING you do, you’re my all time favorite designer/blogger! However, I have to say that while what you did was beautiful, I think I prefer the cedar look for an outdoor play set. To me it seems more kid friendly. Just seems like EVERYONE on IG now is team all white everything, including for their kids. I feel there’s so much more imagination for kids when colors involved. Was wondering if you doubted it at all or if you just really couldn’t stand the color? Again, what you did is beautiful, just curious as to what made you decide to change it.

    • Julia says:

      Oh man, it was SUCH an eyesore. It was almost orange. And now it matches our home perfectly. If you look at the progress photo, you can see it’s not bright white, but a tan color with white trim and with the lifetime exterior paint–it’s super kid friendly and durable. Our girls seem actually almost proud of it! I have learned that kids rarely care how something looks and their imaginations can run wild with a cardboard box! But! If you prefer the look of the cedar, then don’t paint yours. Every project we do is definitely take it and make it your own or leave it. No hard feelings!

  22. Kerry says:

    This looks great! Question, did you use the oil-based primer under the acrylic paint? I always thought that was a no no… I have some wood doors that need painting and I’ve been wondering how to go about it. Thanks!

  23. Andi says:

    The gold accents, the golllld accentssss! The playground looks so refreshed and welcoming!

  24. Sunne says:

    We have an almost identical play set that I’ve been dying to paint. Seeing your end product motivates me to do mine. Thank you so much for this post!

  25. Molly says:

    Firstly- I LOVE handy paint products! They’re so so great. How did we ever paint without them?! But Secondly- Holy Moly that playhouse looks fantastic!!! You guys did an amazing job and I can’t wait to hear about how well it wears as the kids use it.

  26. Gillianne says:

    Would the cedar have weathered to silver over time?

    The new paint job is looking crisp and makes your property look a little like a family compound with a matching outbuilding. :)

  27. Rachel says:

    Would you recommend using a paint sprayer before the play set is assembled? Doing this right out of the box and then assembling it?

  28. Patrycja says:

    I love it!!! I think I am ready to tackle ours now. I love everything that you guys did on it. What do you guys uses for the ground cover? Do you like it? I am trying to pick a ground over for our play set.
    Thank you-Patrycja

  29. V says:

    Did you put a top clear coat on?

  30. Jill says:

    Would you still do the painting once assembled or unassembled now that you’ve been through the process?

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We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

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